Over recent years, there has been an unsurmountable surge in enrollees in online courses. This is a given since almost all people have access to internet across the globe.

According to a survey done by Global Shapers, an estimated 47.9% of the respondents admitted that they would be willing to pursue certification for certain skills or advancement in their careers through online courses. This is a testament of the ever surprising popularity of online education. In this article, we will tackle on the background of online education as well as take a look as to why more and more people choose to enroll themselves in online courses.

What is online education?            

Before we delve deeper into the factors that have caused the surprising growth of online education, let us first talk about what it exactly is. This is important since some readers are not that well versed with the different basics of online education.

In actuality, online education can exist in two major forms. The first one is in the form of credit courses wherein students in the tertiary level can enroll in.  In this case, students earn learning credits from higher education learning institutions. A popular example would be the MIT OpenCourseWare as well as the Harvard Online Learning Institute.

The second form aims to provide certification of professional training as well as skill based training in preparation for advancement in employment or to help people pursue a higher career path. These certifications help  students get into  various fields of employment which include accounting, healthcare among others.

People who want to go into online education have the freedom to choose either of the two forms based on their need, considering that they possess the required qualifications.

How Many Students Are Into Online Education?

Over the past years, there has been a substantial increase in number of enrollees in online courses. According to a study done by the Babson Survey Research Group, there is a trend in the increase of enrollees over the past 13 years.

According to the same report, as of February 2016, the total number of students taking online courses grew to a whopping 5.8 million. This statstic is based in the United States alone. In this data, approximately 65% of these students are in the tertiary level.

This number, in comparison to the same report in 2015 of the same survey group, shows a 10% increase in number. That’s 10% more students in one year.



Why Are Institutions Moving into Online Education

Indeed, there is a huge and surprising increase in the number of employees over the past few years, a fact that has dawned upon institutions which led them to move into online courses. However, with that being said, there are far more reasons that have caused this sudden change in venue.

One of the most evident reasons why more and more institutions are looking into or are already investing on online courses is the mere fact that there is higher student access. Most people allot most of their time facing computers, gadgets, using the internet. Because of this, the internet provides a more convenient and cost effective access into education.

With this, there is also more probability of degree completion with online education. Educational institutions find it important that students should finish their degrees in a shorter span of time, with online education, this is more attainable.

Another important factor why institutions are moving into online education is its cost effectiveness. With online education, there is less equipment needed, not to mention, the amount of electricity saved in the process.

What Is The Future for Online Education?

As reflected in numerous reports and surveys, this growth in online education can be expected for years to come. However, the number of potential students and the institutions that offer online courses is finite. With this at hand, we ask to what extent can we expect this continuous growth in online enrollment.

Approximately one third of all online enrollments in the United States are from higher/tertiary education institutions. So it is expected that the future online enrollments will rest hugely on the number of potential tertiary level students.

It is also expected that the increase in online enrollments will also depend on the number of new institutions that are likely to enter the online learning arena. However, the industry is already saturated with educational institutions. This means that most institutions are already offering online courses.

With this, the sustainability of existing institutions that offer online courses will depend on their engagement online. They must offer competitive prices and must provide quality education among their enrollees. Moreover, they must be willing to take a step above their competition by offering non tradition, skill based courses that may garner the interest of potential enrollees.

Despite the saturation of online courses, leading academic institutions still believe that there will be a continuous demand for online education. According to a report done by the Sloan Foundation, 83% of institutions expect online enrollment to soar over the coming years.

What Hinders the Growth of Online Education?

There are several factors that hinder the growth of online education. These factors are brought about by skepticism from potential enrollees, teachers and even the institution.

Generation gap has a huge impact on the growth of online education. Teachers who are in the older age spectrum tend to have an evasion when it comes to new technology. Most of them do not accept the huge value of online learning, saying that it takes more time and effort.

Enrollees too can become skeptic or cynical with what online education has to offer. Most of them have this pessimism that learning wont be as immersive or impactful compared to the classroom setting. They can also become uncertain to the credibility of an online school or course, especially when it is new. The challenge now rests upon the institution as to how they will market their courses

Lastly, the costs for online development and delivery can be a huge hindrance for those who are still planning on offering online courses. However, for those who have already offered online courses, they are already reaping the cost effective benefits of their investment.